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“Total visitation to Washington, DC estimated to fall 53 percent in 2020”


Photo by Eric P.

From Destination DC:

“After 10 years of growth, total visitation to DC estimated to fall by more than 50 percent in 2020 before potential rebound in 2021

Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC, today announced that pre-COVID-19, the nation’s capital welcomed 24.6 million total visitors, with 22.8 million domestic visitors (up 4.1 percent), and 1.8 million overseas visitors (down 7.9 percent). (Sources: MMGY Travel Intelligence, Travel Market Insights, National Travel & Tourism Office, U.S. Department of Commerce). According to 2019 data from IHS Markit, visitation supported 78,266 jobs across all sectors in Washington, DC, up 2.3 percent from 2018. Tourism also generated $8.2 billion in visitor spending and $896 million in local tax revenue to the District.

Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of DDC, addressed approximately 1,000 attendees virtually at the organization’s annual Marketing Outlook Meeting. He also shared data from Tourism Economics that projects approximately 11 million domestic visitors, down 53 percent, will travel to the city in 2020. However, if a vaccine is available early next year, and if the recession does not deepen in a significant way, that estimate could rise to 20 million by 2022. By comparison, it took the travel industry 10 years to recover following 9/11.

“We set the bar high with 10 consecutive years of growth before the pandemic changed things for us, and as we can expect, this year won’t look good,” said Ferguson. “The key for us will be securing funds to market our destination when the time is right, adapting our sales efforts virtually and focusing on the safety measures the city and industry have adopted to keep visitor safety in mind.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke about the importance of tourism to the local economy.

“We know that Washingtonians are resilient, and so is our culture and our community. Together, we will bring our tourism and hospitality industries back and better than before,” said Mayor Bowser. “As we continue through our pandemic response and recovery, we remain focused on supporting the local businesses that represent the livelihoods and dreams of Washingtonians. And with Destination DC’s help, and when the time is right, we are ready to remind everyone that DC is still a city with something for everyone – whether you’re here to live, work or play.”

There are new tourism opportunities ahead, in addition to DC’s reopened restaurants, hotels, attractions and museums. On June 5, Mayor Bowser created Black Lives Matter Plaza. DC welcomes a newborn baby panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Aug. 21. MLK Library reopens Sept. 14 after a three-and-a-half-year renovation. DC Jazz Fest is virtual from Sept. 24-28. Planet Word, dedicated to language arts, opens Oct. 22. Three new memorials are expected, the National Native American Veterans Memorial on Veteran’s Day, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial on Sept. 17 and the National World War I Memorial park in December. The city will also welcome new brands in the coming months including Viceroy, YOTEL, CitizenM and the city’s first Tribute Portfolio hotel from Marriott International, The Ven at Embassy Row, as well as new hotels AC Hotel Convention Center and Cambria Hotel Capital Riverfront.

In 2021, arts and culture milestones include the 175th anniversary of the Smithsonian; the 125th anniversary of the DC Public Library system; the 100th anniversary of The Phillips Collection; the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Center, 50th anniversary of Amtrak and the 40th anniversary of the National Building Museum. Preparations are also underway for Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021.”

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